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Hair Facts: Things You Didn’t Know About Your Hair

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We Homo sapiens are a unique bunch. We’re mammalian, but unlike the majority of other mammals, we are relatively hairless. We may have had a nice furry body in the past, but nowadays the bulk of our hair can usually be seen on the top of our head. You may think you have it all figured out, but we’ll try to tackle you anyway. Here we go with our list of several things you didn’t know about your hair!

Hair Loss Is Normal

woman hair bun

Woman with hair in bun.

Losing hair is natural, and many times the hair will grow back. Hair thinning or shedding is something which occurs in the normal life cycle of an average hair. A strand has a lifespan of 2-7 years, before it retires to the final phase of its existence on your head. After the hair follicle cuts off the supply of nutrients to the hair shaft, the strand falls away and allows another hair to take its place.

Researchers say that you can lose about 50-150 hairs per day, and in some cases (like when an accelerated phase of hair shedding is taking place) 200-300 per day. This is all still under the umbrella term of “normal”. Don’t be afraid if you discover more than your usual amount of shed hairs, but do keep an eye on it. If you are worried -- which is also normal -- see a professional.

Greying Hair Is Normal

Old woman laughing next to flower bush.

Woman with grey hair.

All hair is white before it extends beyond the hair follicle. Once it begins growing out of the scalp, the body’s chemistry takes over and colors the hair according to the individual’s genetic makeup (hey there, albinos!). The same group of molecules which determine your eye color and skin shade are also the ones which determine your hair’s color.

As we grow, we may discover that there isn’t enough dye in the hair follicles to color all of the new arrivals. This results in hairs which come out grey, silver, white, or some variation thereof. The timing of this transition depends a lot on your family history, but there are those who say that stress, smoking, and poor nutrition have their say in the matter. Illness or certain medication may also hasten the onset of graying. At the end of the day, graying hair is a normal part of the aging process. 

Your Hair Wasn’t Meant To Be Manipulated

Woman with curly hair looking to the side.

Woman with natural hair.

Harsh chemicals, detergents, foaming agents, artificial fragrances, preservatives, dyes -- not to mention irons, sticks, sprays, creams, brutal hair-ties and intense blow-dryers… we put our scalp and hair through a lot, all the time. To some people, it could seem as if it has always been this way. 

The truth of the matter is that all of this is relatively new. Styling and fiddling with hair is a timeless practice, yes, but in the last couple of centuries -- and in particular the last 70 years -- hair products and hair manipulation has gone all out.

More than anything, your hair enjoys being left to its own devices. If you can afford to do it -- and if you are so inclined -- learn to embrace your natural look. Don’t feel like you have to constantly style and manipulate your hair.

Your Hair Could Grow Faster If You Cut It More Often

Woman with short, healthy hair

Woman with short hair.

This always seems counter-intuitive and borderline-myth, but there is some truth to it. Cutting your hair doesn’t alter your genes in any way, but nevertheless trimming your locks regularly can help the remaining ones become stronger. The hair might be shorter after a trim, but it will also be less prone to breakage, shedding, and split ends going forward.

When you cut your hair and clear out some of the damaged or lifeless strands, you allow the body to devote the proper amount of attention to the hairs which are in their growing phase. The hair which is left will often be shinier, thicker, and more lively. A good time for a trim is every three months or so. That’s a rule of thumb, but it varies.

You Might Be Washing Your Hair 7 Times Too Often

Woman in shower washing brunette hair.

Person showering.

You may be washing your hair entirely too often. Just because you have the ability to wash your hair, doesn’t mean you should. As I mentioned before, the hair knows how to grow when left alone. Don’t forget that some amount of oil and grime is natural and even beneficial.

The best habit regarding hair-washing is once a week -- but this depends a lot on your hair type, and also on your day-to-day schedule and lifestyle. Do your research, find out what your hair likes, and be open to the possibility that a good once-a-week shampoo-and-conditioner session in the shower could potentially provide your hair and scalp with all the nourishment they require. It’s important to know your hair so you know how best to manage it.

Color Treatments Can Damage Your Hair

Girl with blue hair in front of lake.

Hair dyed blue.

Some dye jobs make long-lasting alterations to your hair’s chemical makeup. Not all color treatments are created the same, of course, so this will vary. But essentially, whenever you bleach/color/dye your hair, you are introducing a host of substances to your hair, your scalp, and your bloodstream.

Colors and dyes could damage a lot more than just your hair, and this is precisely why so many people are leaving these questionable methods behind and opting for more natural alternatives. The thing is, many times the alternatives don’t provide the same results, nor do they last as long as a traditional salon or homemade dye job.

Does Hair Have A Taste?

Interestingly enough, it does. Even more interesting? There is a good chance you’ve already tasted it today! Bet you didn’t know that!

Human hair is one of several sources from which the amino acid L-cysteine is derived. L-cys is used primarily in the food industry. It can be found in many products, the most famous of which is ordinary bread. Plain human hair tends to be very bland, and it is not very chewy. You may want to sprinkle some salt on that bowl of human spaghetti, chief.

All off-colored jokes aside, it is recommended not to engage in trichophagia (hair-eating), since it can damage your gastrointestinal system, and in extreme cases -- like that of Rapunzel syndrome -- it can even be fatal.

How Much Weight Can Your Hair Hold?

We all know that human hair is quite strong! You wouldn’t necessarily think it just by looking at your hair, but those locks can hold a significant amount of weight. Hair can also be highly elastic, being able to stretch up to approximately 20-50% of its original length -- and return to its original state -- without damage or breakage. Researchers found that a single strand of human hair can hold up to 3.5 oz. According to that calculation, they posited that a full head of human hair can hold about 12 tonnes.

The concept of “hair hang” -- an acrobatic feat of suspension carried out using the acrobat’s hair -- is one which is still ongoing, and it can be seen performed by men and women in circus acts around the globe. Ouch.

Is The Hair On My Head Dead?

bearded man

Man with dreadlocks.

The hair which is visible -- aka the strands -- carries no nerves or blood whatsoever. This is why it does not bleed or cause pain when it is cut. In that sense, it is indeed dead. The hair follicle is the part of the hair which receives the blood and nutrients, hence it is considered to be the part that is alive.

Our hairs are affected by the processes within their respective follicles, their roots. New growth of hair will always come out of the root, and what goes on there determines the vitality of the strand.

So yes -- your hair is dead. Long live the hair!

Conclusion

You know what? For a wild mess of dead protein strands, our hair sure gets around! We maintain it, we parade it, and we lavish it with attention. We attribute all kinds of significance to it, and it even plays a part in sexual attraction, courting, and mating. Hair (or lack of it) also has all sorts of meanings in religions, cultures, and faiths around the world. These hair-related traditions go back thousands of years.

Some of you hair aficionados out there may have already known some of the facts mentioned on this list. But hey, it never hurts to freshen up on what it is that makes our hair so amazing (but not too tasty).You can’t deny that for better or worse, hair has the potential to be a lot more than it actually is. Your hair is what you make of it. Take good care of it and treat it right -- you’re likely to miss it when it’s gone!